It was the wee years of the nineteen hundred and eighties. Television didn’t air Cartoon Network, cyber space was still confined within the peripheries of laboratories and MMS was a distant dream. Kids played real games requiring physical exertion. And also read a lot of comics. During those days of idyllic endeavours it was usually the American fare, which captivated minds of a generation just out of their diapers (now reading and writing blogs). The desi stuff wasn’t much to boast about (of course, as always there were exceptions). A scientist by education, but an entertainer by vocation – Anant Pai, aka Uncle Pai – initiated a comic magazine called Tinkle. A place where learning meets fun.
This was 25 years ago. In this quarter of a century Tinkle has added a lot of sparkle to a lot of lives. Shikari Shambu, Suppandi, Tantri the Mantri, Kalia the Crow, Pyarelal, Nasruddin Hodja, Raghu, Anwar and many more who I cannot presently recall became nicknames of kids in school. A dedicated team of cartoonists and able story tellers (most often readers themselves) led by Uncle Pai made their way into the hearts of millions. Ram Waeerkar was my favourite. I loved the way he drew the eyes, especially of animals. Notable mentions include Sanjiv Waeerkar (a relation of Ram’s?), VB Halbe, Prasad Iyer, Pradeep Sathe and Archana Amberkar.
Published by India Book House, who also have another institution to their credit – Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle hasn’t really got it’s due. It has stubbornly withstood the onslaught from beyond the borders as well as the cheap and tasteless Indian fare – which ranged from the gross to the utterly disgusting. In this cacophony of blood, gore, cleavages, dumb humour and now television and the internet, Tinkle stood its ground and dutifully continues to educate and entertain the generations.
But Tinkle’s 25th anniversary special edition didn’t live upto my expectations. There wasn’t much ‘special’ about it. A trip down the nostalgic lane would have perhaps contented veteran Tinkle fans like me. I genuinely feel that that they can do much better with their existing resources.
It’s a sad fact that the characters like Nagraj and those created by Pran – Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki etc., are far more recognised and read. Does someone remember Bahadur?